After working on his novel Family Life for seven years, Akhil Sharma began to lose his mind. Whenever he sat down to write, he began having panic attacks, the kind that left his chest feeling “constantly bruised” for months on end. Eventually, he hit on a solution: he learned to take his mind off his novel by praying for other people.
In The Age of The Crisis of Man, a new book by n + 1 co-founder and editor Mark Greif, the author examines the life and death of the concept of “man,” aka a unified humankind that could be said to suffer from particular conflicts. It was born in the thirties, with the rise of Fascism, but persisted for decades, eventually giving way to a more diversified view of humanity. In Tablet, Adam Kirsch dives into Greif’s arguments.
“Lillian haunted me when she was alive. And she has haunted me since her death in July 2015. And she has haunted me in spectacular ways since I published my memoir a month ago.” Sherman Alexie has cancelled the rest of a book tour to promote his new memoir about his relationship with his mother, reports The Guardian. See also: our interview with Ellen Forney, who illustrated Alexie’s National Book Award-winning YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
“Sometimes I think I’ve lost my nerve a little bit. I think it’s growing older, and a certain reservoir of anger literally runs out.” The Guardian interviews James Wood, author and book critic at The New Yorker, about his craft, his forthcoming novel Upstate, and the landscape of today’s literary criticism. Pair with: an essay about the greatness (and great influence) of Wood on a fellow novelist.
Over at The New York Times, Citizen author Claudia Rankine reviews Teju Cole’s new essay collection. As she puts it, “Cole attempts to untangle the knot of who or what belongs to us and to whom or what do we belong as artists, thinkers and, finally, human beings.” Pair with this Millions interview with Cole.
Object narrative (n): a story told through meditations on various physical objects. Examples include Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes; Neil MacGregor’s A History of the World in 100 Objects; and Paula Byrne’s The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things.